Posted tagged ‘photoshop’

Do You Color Outside The Lines?

November 7, 2009
IMG_3003
New York skyline, approaching storm.

Profiles.  They can be good or bad, your left side or right side, or what you write about yourself on Facebook.  But in digital printing,   profiles are part of the the glue that connects the colors your digital camera captures to the colors in your digital print.

A printer profile is a bit of software, called an ICC file,  that describes  how a particular combination of printer, inkset, and printing paper reproduce colors at a specific printing  resolution. For example,  the ICC profile SP7898 PLPP260 PK 2880.icc describes how an Epson 7800 printer using the K3 inkset with Photo Black ink printing on Epson Premium Lustre 260 paper at a printing resolution of 2880 dpi reproduces color.

Profiles are useful because they let Adobe Photoshop  accurately  preview what your image will look like when it’s printed, and  to control your digital printer’s output so it matches that preview. (or, at least, as close as ink on paper can look to pixels on a monitor).

Once the appropriate profiles are installed, Photoshop  uses them in the View>Proof Setup command on the top menu to preview images,  and in the Print dialogue to control your printer. Voila, an accurate print.

Or maybe not.

Along with ICC profiles, colorspace helps to determine what colors your camera records, that Photoshop displays and  your print or digital file reproduce. A device colorspace defines the range of colors, or gamut, that a device, such as a camera or printer, can reproduce. An editing colorspace is device-independent, but determines the color range you can work in with, for, example, Adobe Photoshop software.

The main colorspaces photographers work in are Adobe RGB (1998), the traditional editing space for, naturally, Adobe Photoshop;  sRGB,  which is primarily used for  images posted on the web; and, more recently ProPhoto.

sRGB  has a smaller gamut than Adobe 1998, which has a smaller gamut than ProPhoto. Why is this important?  Because to know how the beautiful colors in your digital image will look in a print, your devices need to be using the same colorspace, your monitor needs to be calibrated accurately to the same colorspace, and your editing software needs to display the same color space.

See what I meant by insanity?  BTW, for you people working with Adobe Lightroom, it uses the ProPhoto color space.

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My, What A Beautiful Profile You Have!

October 16, 2009
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Surfside Dawn

One of the great things about digital photography is convenience. You can see your pictures right away, and delete those you hate and take more.

You can take a bazillion pictures and they’re saved on a teeny tiny memory card that’s barely bigger than your thumbnail.

You can load them into a computer and store them,  erase the memory card, and go out and take more pictures.

And you can make prints yourself, hooking your computer up to a digital printer, and – sometimes they look great.

But too often, digital  prints are a disappointment because the colors are wrong, or the pictures are too dark, or they just look gooky –  not at all like the glorious images you saw through the viewfinder.

I teach digital printing workshops, and the question I hear most often is,  “Why don’t my prints look the same as my pictures looked on the monitor?”

That’s a good question with a complex answer.

It’s because  digital cameras see (and record) color differently than a computer monitor, which sees color differently than a digital printer. Metaphorically, while they’re all talking the same basic language, it’s like each one is speaking a different dialect and missing a few words of what the others are saying.

In my digital printing workshops, I teach how to get all these devices talking to each other properly to get consistent results, to have your prints match what you see on your monitor, and how to control the digital printing process so that you can make artistic choices in how to render an image.

Or, in other words, the art and science of  using a color managed digital workflow.

And, just as the future rested on single word, “plastics,” whispered to Dustin Hoffman in “The Graduate,” digital color management also rests on a single word: “profiles”

Next Time:  Profiles, Color Space and  Insanity.

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Fun with Photoshop Actions

August 27, 2009

JP_090517_20313 copyJP_090517_20313-Edit_flat copy

I now use Adobe Lightroom for about 90% of my work, but I still use Adobe Photoshop for pictures that require layers,  compositing, and creative tools that Lightroom doesn’t have,  such as Actions.

Actions are awesome. An action is a programmed series of operations in Photoshop that is set in motion with a single mouse click, and can be designed to do just about anything, from simple to extremely complex. They’re one-step solutions that can really add to productivity and creativity.

Photoshop comes with a few actions, and you can write your own, although the process is not very intuitive. There are gobs of free actions on-line for a huge range of tasks, and I regularly surf for them,  looking for new ones to add something special to my pictures or automate  really boring and repetitive tasks, such as resizing pictures and saving them as jpgs.

One of my favorite actions converts an image into a high-contrast black and white duotone.  I often combine this action with layer masking and painting to create duotones that also have areas of color.  Above  is a before and after example of this technique.

To add an action to Photoshop, click on the menu box in the upper right corner of the Actions Palette, and select “Load Options”. Then, navigate to the folder on your computer where you have saved the action and select it.

actions paletteactions menu

To apply an action to an image, first open the image in Photoshop and click on the button for the action in the Actions Palette. In the picture on the left,  above, each of the horizontal bars with text is an action “button”.

Below are some of my favorite Actions websites;   Google “Photoshop Actions” to find many, many more.

Have fun!

Action Central

Deviant Art

Smashing Magazine

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The More Things Change…..

September 15, 2008

I’m sure you’ve heard the old saying, “the more things change, the more they stay the same.” I’m thinking of rewriting it to say,  “the more things change, the more only ONE thing stays the same.”  I’ve made photographs for a living for 35 years, and photography has changed more in the last 5 years than in the last 50. Picture styles flare up and die out in the blink of an eye and old markets fade as new ones are born. Those of us who practice this craft are scrambling to keep up. Sometimes I wonder why I got into this business.

The upside is that you get to create neat images and you get to play with cool stuff. Cameras and lenses and lights and computers and so many other toys! Since the digital photography revolution began, almost everything is different; pixels have replaced grain, cameras have gotten smaller and smarter, pictures now live on computers instead of in dusty albums, and film is fast going the way of the dodo bird.

In the midst of all that has changed, for me one thing has stayed the same; I get up in the morning thinking about new pictures to create, even if I now work with a computer instead of in the darkroom.

In this blog, I’m going to talk about photography, its tools and techniques, theory and practice, history and future, for all who love to make pictures.

I welcome your comments and I hope you will share your experiences.